- Are winter winds streaming through your windows? We share a step-by-step checklist to help make sure you are not wasting a single energy dollar!
- Painting a room is a fun and inexpensive home improvement project that can make a big impact. But whilemost people spend a lot of time picking the perfect color for their rooms, choosing the perfect paint sheen is just as important! We’ll share tips on how the best sheen to make your project shine.
- Is doing a DIY project with your spouse a sure-fire way to add stress to your home life? We’ll share the results of a new survey that reveals how relationships survived when doing-it-yourself, means doing it together.
- If your driveway looks like a sea of cracking and shifting waves, we’ll share some DIY tips to help fix it up for the long winter ahead.
Plus, answers to your home improvement questions about:
- Katherine wants to know what she can do patch up unused electrical outlets without the help of an electrician.
- Andrew in Arkansas wants to add a garage or a car port into his basement and is concerned about disturbing a wall.
- Allison in Illinois is asking, “How to manage water between her house and her neighbors?”.
- Dante from Rhode Island wants to know what to do if he is struggling to match a paint color in his room.
- Linda in Ohio asks, “Is it possible to get a generator in an apartment?”.
- Lee from Arkansas is wondering when the best time to put her house on the market.
- Dana in Massachusetts is asking a problem with paint peeling, even after applying primer.
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: What are you working on this fine fall day? If it’s your house, you are in exactly the right place. Are you outside looking at tons and tons of leaves that are all over the place, trying to get them cleaned up? Got some gutters to empty out so they don’t clog and overflow and wash out your landscaping or flood your basement? You’ve got some kitchen projects to do, some painting, some floor squeaks to fix? Whatever project you want to get done, we are here to help lend a hand. We’ve got years and years of experience doing just that. And if there’s a project that you need some assistance with, I bet we can get you pointed in the right direction.
Coming up on today’s show, have you checked your windows lately for drafts? You know, we’re going to give you a checklist to make sure those windows are still as energy-efficient as the day they were installed. We’ll walk you through a DIY checklist and help you make sure that you’re not wasting any energy dollars, in today’s Smart Spending Tip.
LESLIE: And also ahead, painting a room really is the most economical way to change the décor of that space. But while most people spend a lot of time picking out that perfect color for the room, they really don’t think about the perfect paint sheen. I mean it’s kind of an afterthought. So we’re going to share some tips on how to choose the best sheen to make your project shine or not. Totally up to you.
TOM: That’s a good point, because sometimes too much sheen is a bad thing, right? Because it shows all the flaws. So, yeah, we’ll walk you through those steps.
But also ahead, spending more time than ever in our homes over the last year has driven many Americans to finally tackle the DIY home improvement projects they’ve been putting off. But for those living with their partner, doing it yourself also meant doing it together. So, we wondered, “How did those relationships fare amongst all that home improvement stress?” There’s been a new survey out that points out some interesting information about that. We’ll share it in just a bit.
LESLIE: But first, let us help you guys create your best home ever. What projects are you working on this fall season? Are you just gearing up for family gatherings? Are you trying to make it look nice inside? Outside? Whatever it is, we’re here to lend a hand. So give us a call anytime at 888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Or you can post your questions at MoneyPit.com.
Let’s get to it. Leslie, lots of fall fix-ups going on out there. Who’s first?
LESLIE: Katherine, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
KATHERINE: I have lighting in the basement and it is something we started initially and we changed our mind. And so there are outlets or holes that are intended for light fixtures and then also a ceiling fan. And we’re changing how we’re going to do things down there. Is there some way that we can patch it up and start all over? Or do we need to have an electrician in and resurface everything and do everything all over again?
TOM: OK. So, your main concern is that you have the holes that you’re not using anymore, so you want to know if you can patch those?
TOM: Yeah. Sure you can.
KATHERINE: Yes. And then the wires are already there.
TOM: Oh, the wires are there? Well, if the wires are there, if they’re live, if they’re connected on the other end, if they’re energized to a panel, then they have to be disconnected for sure.
TOM: You could just put wire nuts on the end of it and cover the box. And there’s different types of ceiling plates that could cover that. But frankly, if you’re never going to use that wiring, I wouldn’t have extra energized wiring through the ceiling. I would just disconnect it at the panel or wherever it was given power.
If it’s a matter of there’s no wiring behind it or you’ve totally disconnected it and now you’ve got these big, old holes, you can do it one of two ways.
TOM: You can either put a decorative plate – let’s say it’s a round fixture, a round electrical box. There are electrical plates that are designed to fit over ceilings, that can cover that. You can paint it white; it’s not that noticeable.
Or if you wanted to completely repair the ceiling as if it never happened at all, then what I would do is I would probably – if I was repairing that, I would square off the hole first so – because it’s a lot easier to patch a square hole than it is a round hole. And then what you do is you take another piece of drywall and you basically measure out a piece that’s – well, let’s say it’s about 2 inches wider on all sides. So if it was 4×4 of the hole, I would look – cut a piece that was 8×8 or so.
TOM: Because what you’re going to do – and this is a little tricky. You’re going to turn that piece of drywall upside down and you’re going to sort of score where that 4-inch piece would be in the middle. Then you’re going to peel off all of the plaster that’s on the drywall, except for the paper on the outside edge. Because that’s going to actually act as the drywall tape. And then if you put spackle and you put that little piece back up there – and you may have to tack it in place with a screw or something while it’s holding, while it’s drying – you can spackle that and it will magically disappear.
But when it’s time to paint, make sure you prime it and then always use a flat paint. Because otherwise, all the spackle you put up there, even if you do a good job, is going to be really obvious. OK?
KATHERINE: OK. Excellent. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Andrew in Arkansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What’s going on?
ANDREW: A few years ago, my wife and I decided we would downgrade to a cheaper home. And the home we purchased has a basement. So we gave up a – we gave up our garage when we sold our other home and we moved to this house. And so what I would like to do is add a garage or a carport, at least.
The house sits on a slope and the one – the east wall is on the lower side of the slope. And it already has the walk-in door. And what I would like to do is remove all of the soil, all the dirt from that east wall and add concrete and either a garage or a carport in that area. But I’m not sure if I remove all that dirt from that wall if it’ll affect the stability of the wall, if that makes sense.
TOM: Yep. So, in other words, where you would have to excavate the wall in that area is a supportive wall that’s basically holding up that side of the house. Is that right?
ANDREW: That is correct, yes.
TOM: Yeah, you can’t dig it out without supporting the structure in the process. And there’s a number of ways to do that but I have to tell you straight off, Andrew, it’s not a DIY project. You know, this is a big job. But there’s a process called “needle-beaming” where, essentially, it can run steel beams through the wall, before that work is done, and then support them externally so that they run perpendicular through it in a couple of different places. And it will hold those walls up while you kind of do all the work that it would take to kind of restore that wall or beef it up.
But that’s the same thing that you would do if you were taking out a foundation. But if you’re going to dig out that dirt, you’re definitely going to disturb that wall and you definitely may have some shifting of the house and that would not be good. And it also wouldn’t be something that you’re going to get insurance to pay for. You could make a heck of a mess out of it.
So, I think you need to get some professional help and at least for this part of the project. Maybe there’s some of the construction you could do yourself. But in terms of getting that foundation set for this addition or this carport, whatever it turns out to be, I would definitely get a pro involved. And I might even consider having an architect spec it out for me. Because if you make some errors in this space, it could definitely affect the value of your home.
ANDREW: OK, OK. So, I guess with removing all that from the wall, it could cause a buckling effect possibly?
TOM: Well, yeah, because the foundation is going to be resting on the soil below it. And we also don’t know – because you said it was on a sloped lot, we don’t know how deep that foundation is compared to what it needs to be for this new addition. So, it needs some – it may be that the foundation is not deep enough and you have to take it out completely and rebuild that piece of it.
So, there’s just too many unknowns for you to dig into this, no pun intended. But I would definitely get some professional help.
ANDREW: OK. Alright. Well, hey, I appreciate the advice.
TOM: Yeah, no problem. If I thought you could do it yourself, I would. But this is definitely something where it could be very unsafe and it could definitely impact the value of your home, as well as livability.
ANDREW: Yes. Thank you very much.
LESLIE: Well, kitchens are a great project to tackle and one project that can really change the look of that space is replacing the countertop. But while replacing the countertop can be expensive, refinishing it is not and it can be easily accomplished with a kit that’s just made exactly for this project. And that’s what we’re giving away today.
TOM: Yep. We’ve got the SpreadStone Countertop Finishing Kit from Daich Coatings to give away today. It delivers a real stone surface. It’s beautiful, it lasts, it’s heat-resistant, it’s water-repellent, it comes in 11 colors. And this project is an easy DIY job you can get done in a single weekend.
It’s worth 125 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, it’s available at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Daich Coatings’ website at DaichCoatings.com. But we’ve got one to give away, so make that you. Call us, right now, with your question. We’ll toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and you may just be taking home that SpreadStone Countertop Finishing Kit from Daich Coatings.
LESLIE: Allison in Illinois is on the line and has a question about some gutters. What’s going on at your money pit?
ALLISON: Hi. So, we just bought our first home. And it’s in the city, so it’s very close to the house next to us. They’re small lots. And so we’re probably 5 feet from our neighbors on the south side. And we’re hoping to finish our basement, so we are looking into waterproofing that. But we also just have this enormous puddle that happens every time it rains, in between the two houses, which is not in use.
ALLISON: But anyway, so giant puddle. I don’t actually know if a French drain is OK in Chicago. But yeah, just wondering what we can do about that. It’s pretty unlevel ground.
TOM: OK. So, first of all, you mentioned that you’re planning to waterproof your basement. If you do this right, you probably won’t have to do any further waterproofing of your basement. Because when your basements get damp and wet as a result of rainfall and puddles forming around the foundation, that is the source of the leak. So, if we can control that, we know that the basement will stay dry. Now, when you have two houses that are close together and there’s no place for the water to run, you need to try to do everything you can to kind of manage it.
Now, did the roofs on these houses both sort of dump into the space between it? Do they have gutters that are working? What kind of water management is there now?
ALLISON: Sure, yeah. Our gutters do work. We have a lot of trees, so we have to clean them out frequently but we’ve done that already. Our neighbors’ does not; his gutter goes into the ground. And it’s – we can see – there’s a little hole in the side of one of them that’s just packed with dirt and leaves.
TOM: OK. Yeah, so that’s going to be a problem because your neighbor is going to dump a lot of water in your way. Can you chat with your neighbor about fixing this?
LESLIE: Or diverting it?
ALLISON: I don’t even know how you clear out a gutter like that that goes into the ground.
TOM: Well, what you do is you basically – it’s kind of like Roto-Rooter. You know, you hire a drain cleaner.
TOM: And essentially, what has to happen here is you’ve got to manage this water any way you can. So I would tell you this: I would put oversized gutters on both houses. So, instead of a 4-inch gutter, I would put a 6-inch because they clog a lot less frequently. I would try to have the downspouts discharge to the lowest part of the property. And I would extend the downspouts so that the water does not collect around the foundation. Either over grade or underground, you extend them and get them out.
If I was still collecting water in the space between the two homes, what I would do is I would put a French drain. And basically, that’s a trench that’s roughly 12 to 18 inches square. And then you put some stone in the bottom of it. You lay a perforated pipe in the stone and then you put more dirt and stone around it. And essentially, what happens is as the water collects in that area, it goes into the pipe and it runs out.
There’s a type of French drain that’s actually premade these days, where you don’t have to do the whole stone thing. And then you’ll find that at home centers where it’s – it looks like a plastic perforated pipe but it’s wrapped in a cloth that has what looks like packing peanuts in between the cloth and the pipe itself. And that’s sort of the aggregate and that can go in in one piece. But however you do this, you’ve got to put that drain in and it’s got to pitch so – at least about a ¼-inch a foot so that the water that’s collecting there can go somewhere.
And that’s the key: you’ve got to find out where that somewhere is. If it’s the backyard, great. If it’s the front yard, you might be able to drop it into the street if the town lets you do that. But you’ve got to manage that water. If you don’t manage the water, it’s going to have no place to go but down, saturate those foundation walls and it will show up as a leak in both basements, potentially.
But you can fix this if you manage the water. If you search on our website how – if you search on our website at MoneyPit.com about leaky basements, you’ll find how to solve a leaky basement and stop a basement that floods. You’ll find some really good posts that we’ve done over the years on it. Some of the basement content on the site is some of the most popular that we have. That’ll actually walk you through this, step by step, and to show you all the ways that this causes the floods, OK?
ALLISON: OK, great. And there’s room for that in between the two houses with the 5 feet?
TOM: Oh, that’s plenty of room for it. Done it with less. Alright?
TOM: OK, Allison. Good luck with that project.
ALLISON: Thank you.
TOM: Well, now that the temperatures are dropping, have you started to feel the drafts? It’s a good time to inspect your windows for signs of those drafts that are driving up your energy costs. We’re going to explain how, in today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
LESLIE: Yeah. You want to start by examining the edges of your window and patio doors for drafty areas. Now, an easy way to do this is to run the back of your hand slowly over these areas. Now, the back of our hands are way more sensitive than the palms, so you’re really going to be able to quickly find those leaky spots.
TOM: Yeah. Great tip.
And those leaks can usually cut down on the energy efficiency of your windows. If you find them, you can use weather-stripping or caulk to seal those gaps. And if you don’t use the windows at all during the winter, you can consider window film that could be temporarily installed for the whole season and then removed.
LESLIE: Now, if your windows don’t open or close easily, that could mean that key components inside are damaged or they need adjustment. And that could mean that the windows are no longer as efficient as they once were. So you should consider repairing them or replacing them.
TOM: Yeah. And if that sounds expensive, remember, you can replace windows a few at a time to cut costs. If you’re going to do this project, be smart about it. What I would suggest is you replace the ones on the north-facing rooms of your house – that’s the coldest side of the house – and then work toward the other sides of the house after that.
LESLIE: And that’s today’s Smart Spending Tip presented by the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card.
TOM: Apply for yours at BankofAmerica.com/MoreRewarding.
LESLIE: Dante in Rhode Island is on the line with a painting question. Tell us what you are working on.
DANTE: Well, I had my house painted a couple – two years ago. Then my wife decided she wanted to take the towel rack off the wall. I took it off the wall, I compounded it, I sanded it. And I had some paint: a brand-new can of the gray paint, pint.
DANTE: I opened it, I stirred it up, put it on the wall. It dried a different color.
TOM: Are you repainting a wall but you just happened to have an extra can of this stuff? Is that what you’re doing?
DANTE: The painter told me – he said, “Why don’t you just buy a can of this paint?”
TOM: Oh, OK. And now it’s not matching. Yeah, I understand. Problem is that with exposure to sunlight, the color changes, it fades.
How big is this room?
DANTE: It’s a bathroom; it’s not big.
TOM: Alright. So it’s a small room. Alright. Listen, I think the easiest thing for you to do, at this point, is to repaint the whole room. Because with all the aggravation you’re going through to try to match this old paint, by the time you just mask everything off – put one coat of primer on first. That is really important. Do not skip the primer step. You will be very sad.
Prime the walls first because this will seal in whatever’s there. And then just put one coat of paint on top, over that, and you’ll be good to go. I think, at this point, you made every effort that you should reasonably make to find the color that matches the old paint. That was – you were unsuccessful. So let’s go and start from scratch, especially since it’s only a bathroom and a fairly small room and easy to paint. OK?
DANTE: Not like this – that it’s old. The can was brand new.
TOM: I hear you but it’s not working. So, there’s a point where you kind of throw in the towel and that’s what I would do. I would – if that was me, I wouldn’t mess with it any further. I would just throw in the towel, put a coat of primer on everything, repaint the walls and call it a day.
LESLIE: Linda in Ohio is on the line and needs some advice on purchasing a generator. How can we help you? By the way, great idea.
LINDA: Is it possible to use a generator when you live in an apartment?
TOM: So are you talking about – what kind of generator? Like a portable generator or a standby generator?
LINDA: Basically standby if my power goes out.
TOM: So, for an apartment, you have to understand that a standby generator or a whole-house generator is something that’s permanently installed, Linda. So the answer would be no. That said, you could use a portable generator but of course, you’d have to run wires – extension cords – from the generator itself into the house. So it’s not very convenient.
There is something called a “transfer switch” that can work for a portable generator where it’s kind of like having a mini-electrical panel inside. But again, it’s something that requires some installation. And generally, when it’s an apartment, you can’t do that. So, the only thing you could really do would be to have a portable generator: one that you took out of storage, put outside – because you can’t run it in the apartment – and then run extension cords in to try to deal with that short-term, hopefully, power outage.
LINDA: Wow. That sounds like it would be difficult.
TOM: Yeah. It’s not the best answer but I mean it’s – see, because generators are something that are permanently installed into the building’s sort of core electrical system? And that’s why it’s real important that they be done correctly. You can’t – when you install these transfer switches inside, they have technology built into them to prevent what’s called a “backfeed,” so that electricity doesn’t go back through the wiring and can hurt a lineman, for example, that’s working on the power lines. So, you can’t really run it without the transfer switch and that has to be permanently installed. And the generator itself is a very big appliance. That said, a portable generator is much smaller.
Now, if you just want to power a couple of things, you could use a very small generator. Generac has one that’s called the iQ that’s 2,000 watts. That’s under 1,000 bucks and will power a fair number of household items: small appliances, lights, that sort of thing. But you have some options there. But again, you have to use an extension cord.
LINDA: OK. Well, thank you.
TOM: Alright, Linda. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, painting a room is the most economical way to change your décor. But while most of us spend a lot of time picking out that perfect color, choosing the perfect paint sheen is also super important. Because the right sheen can mean the difference between easy cleanup and a smudge that is really hard to get rid of, for one.
LESLIE: Yeah. So let’s start with the basics about the sheen.
First of all, flat. It’s got a matte appearance, no sheen. And this really is a good choice when the surface you’re covering is not in the most perfect condition. Because the more reflective or shiny the sheen is or the finish is in the paint, the more you’re going to notice those imperfections. I’m talking about things like a drywall seam or a nail pop. Or if you had a previous texture on the wall and you sort of knocked it down and it maybe isn’t the most even, you’ll definitely notice it with more of a sheen. But with a flat, you won’t. It’s also really great for ceilings. But it’s not meant for areas that are high traffic, high touch because it’s going to show scuffs and it’s going to smudge easily and it can be hard to clean.
Now, this one: eggshell. It’s my favorite but I have noticed that when I use eggshell, depending on the color, you sort of get a variety of the sheen of eggshell. The deeper, darker the color, the more shiny it will appear than a gray or a taupe or a beige. Now, most people think, “Eggshell, that’s just the color.” But what happens is when that paint dries, the surface of it kind of looks like an actual eggshell. It’s got – you know, it’s mostly flat but it’s got a little area that seems kind of rich or a little bit of a sheen, kind of velvety. And it’s a smooth finish. It does reflect a little bit more than flat but it is going to hide those imperfections. It’s somewhat washable and it’s not really as durable as the other sheens but I really do love it. It’s my favorite.
TOM: Yeah. And that reflection is really the issue. If you use too much of a gloss or too much of a sheen on a wall, for example – most drywallers today, they’re not perfect. Nobody’s perfect but if you want to find the imperfections in a wall, go ahead and paint it with something that’s got a sheen to it.
LESLIE: And you’ll see them.
TOM: Because when the sunlight casts across it, when the room lights cast across it – just hold a flashlight at an angle, flat to the wall. I used to do this when I was inspecting and I was kind of looking for cracks and stuff. I’d hold it almost on the wall and as that light cast across it, you could see every nail, you could see every spackle mark, you could see every seam. And that’s what happens when the light gets cast across it. So make sure you go with nothing that is stronger than the eggshell on walls.
Now, from there, because the sheen really starts to kick up, let’s start with satin. It’s got kind of a silky sheen. It’s really my favorite sort of sheen for most projects – for trim and also for urethane projects – because it reflects just enough light. And it works really well in spaces that are damp, like kitchens and bathrooms. It’s durable enough for kids’ rooms and hallways. It can also be used on woodwork and trim and it stands up well to grime. It cleans up super well, too.
From there, we go to semigloss, which is shinier than satin. And that reflects actually about 35-50 percent of the light that hits it. So if you’ve got an area that is really prone to fingerprints, for example, then that’s a good choice for semigloss.
And from there, high gloss, highest-sheen paint. Great for utility rooms, playrooms where washability is absolutely a must. But don’t use it if you’re worried about imperfections, because it will highlight every single one.
LESLIE: I love it on a banister.
TOM: Hey, that’s a good place for it. Yeah. Mm-hmm. That’s right. And it gets super dirty, so it’s easy to clean.
LESLIE: Well, one project that can really change the look of a kitchen is replacing that countertop. But while replacing the countertop could be expensive, refinishing it certainly is not. And you can easily accomplish it with a kit that’s made exactly for this project. And we’re giving it away today.
TOM: Yep. It’s called the SpreadStone Countertop Finishing Kit. It’s made by Daich Coatings. This adds a real stone surface to your old top. It’s beautiful, it lasts, it’s heat-resistant. It’s, of course, water-repellent and it’s a project you can tackle in one weekend.
Now, it’s available for 125 bucks online at Home Depot, Lowe’s and DaichCoatings.com. But we’ve got one SpreadStone Countertop Finishing Kit going out to a listener drawn at random. If you’d like to enter, call us with your home improvement question or post it at MoneyPit.com. And that phone number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Leigh on the line with a real-estate question.
LEIGH: We are a military couple and we have five children. We’re just trying to decide when we should put our house up on the market. We just got orders to go to a new base and we’re trying to decide if we should put it up now or wait a few months, when the best time would be for that.
TOM: Wow. Well, first of all, thank you for your service. And that’s quite a challenge that you have. You’ve got five kids and you’ve got to move. I would say that you’d be better off putting it up now and not waiting, even though it doesn’t seem like it’s the best time of year to sell. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, as my dad always used to say. And if you can sell that house now rather than risk not having it sold by the time it’s time for you to move, that’s the best possible scenario.
If you find a buyer that’s really cooperative, they might even be able to extend the closing date to give you the time that you need to get to the new base. But I guess if I was faced with that scenario, I would probably try to get the home on the market as quickly as possible.
LEIGH: OK. Sounds good. Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, there’s no doubt that home improvement can be stressful. But add to it the confines of being at home with a partner through those projects and you’ve got the makings of the best relationship test ever or perhaps a shortcut to divorce court.
TOM: Well, HomeAdvisor recently surveyed homeowners across the country to find out how DIY couples navigated home improvement projects. And the results? Pretty interesting.
So, 7 in 10 say home improvement projects are a great relationship test. No doubt. And agreeing to or staying on budget was an issue for 80 percent of couples. So, it always comes down to the money, right?
LESLIE: That is true. And nearly three in five couples describe the home improvement process as satisfying, while only one in five said it was tense.
Now, the best projects to work on with a partner are the bedroom, the kitchen and a living room. And couples are more likely to argue over small things, like the paint color, rather than the bigger decisions, like “Should we knock this wall down?” Which you would think it would be the other way around.
TOM: Yeah. And even though it can lead to tension, respondents often enjoy doing DIY home improvement projects with their partner. Two in five described the experience as satisfying. And 67 percent said it brought them closer together. Isn’t that nice?
LESLIE: We’ve got Dana in Massachusetts on the line who’s dealing with some peeling paint. Tell us what’s happening.
DANA: Yes. On our north side, where it gets very little sunlight, we were painting it. It was painted before but we were repainting it and – where it was chipping. And we did put down some primer first and then we painted it and then it starts – it keeps bubbling and chipping after we’re done painting it.
TOM: Wow. So even though you’re – even though you put down primer, it still seems to keep separating. Is it separating from a layer deeper than the primer coat? Because sometimes, with multiple coats of paint, it’ll break down deeper in the surface, like one of the earlier coats of paint.
DANA: I don’t think it is. Someone said that what they thought might have happened is the first time it was painted, that the painters might have painted it – I don’t even know if they put primer down. They might have put one coat and they might have painted it right after a rainstorm, when the wood was still wet.
TOM: Well, maybe, maybe not. But the thing is, if they didn’t prime it, then that’s the reason it’s separating. Primer is always really important because it really makes the color coat stick, so to speak.
TOM: So if you’ve got peeling paint, there’s no way that you can go over that with new paint, because you can’t put good paint over bad paint. It’s just going to continue to peel.
TOM: So you’ve got to get down to a surface that’s below all that loose stuff.
Now, if it’s a big area, you can prime the whole thing. If it’s small areas that are sort of separated, then you can do what’s called “spot-priming.” And just to be absolutely certain, I wouldn’t – when you go to the home center or the paint store, I would get a bonding primer, which is very adhesive and it really sticks to those old surfaces no matter what’s there. And then, once that’s all set up, then you can go ahead and put another finish coat on top and you should be good to go.
LESLIE: Alright. Vicky says, “We have a cedar deck that was finished twice with a dark stain. After about a year, the stain started peeling like paint. We used a pressure washer to get some of the loose paint off but that also caused some of the wood to splinter. How do we remove the rest of the stain and what do we do to refinish it?”
TOM: Yeah. You know, you’ve got to be careful with the pressure washer, right? I mean there’s so much pressure in that and usually they’re very adjustable. So you want to use only as much as you absolutely need, even if it takes longer. Because if you use too much pressure, you can definitely damage the wood. I’ve even seen pressure washers damage concrete when they’re set too high.
So, they’re a good tool – especially if the paint is loose – but there’s a fair amount of elbow grease needed to kind of scrub off that loose stuff. And you don’t have to get every piece of it off but if it’s not adhering, then it has to come off, because you can’t put good paint over bad paint or good stain over bad stain. So, I would say to get off as much as you can and then at this point, I would wait for summer. Wait until it’s good and dry, even spring or late spring.
LESLIE: Yeah. But days after no rain. It’s got to be dry.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. This is the kind of project where you go, “Oh, I’m going to do it” – I don’t know – “first week in May.” And then the first week in May, it rains like crazy and you go, “I’ll do it next week.” And then you wait 3 days – “OK, I’m going to do it tomorrow.” And then it rains again. See, timing is really important. So wait until it’s good and dry.
And then, you want to use a high-adhesion primer. Now typically – right? – typically, you would not use a primer on a deck. But in your case, you’re having a real bad time getting this to stick. So I’m going to suggest that you don’t stain it but paint it. You can use a low-sheen paint. It’s almost the same as a solid-color stain. But I want you to use a high-adhesion primer and what that means is these are primers that are made specifically to stick to the deck, stick to the base, stick to the substrate and not peel off. The only job of that primer is to grab onto those wood fibers and not separate.
Once the primer dries, then you put some paint on top of that. An easy way to do that is to pick up a paint sprayer. You can rent one but frankly, today, you can buy them just as inexpensively. Wagner has got a whole line of them. Their Control Pro line is really good. And you can spray that deck a lot quicker than you could paint it. And you will get in every nook and cranny.
LESLIE: Oh, yeah. That’s the best part of it.
TOM: Yeah. And you can use the paint sprayer for the primer, too. There’s no reason not to do that and the job goes quickly. Yeah, it takes a little more time to set up and clean up because you’ve got the sprayer to deal with. But it’s definitely easier and the best way to do it. Otherwise, you’ve got to shove the brush into all of those little grooves between the boards and you never get it 100 percent.
So, I think that’s what you’re up against, Vicky. You’re going to have to do a good job with it this time so it’ll stick. And if you do it right, you ought to get 7, 8 years out of it.
LESLIE: Yeah, Vicky. And once you do get a finish to stick, Tom’s right: you’re going to get a long run with that finish. So take your time, do it right and make sure you pick a color you like, because you’re going to be stuck with it.
TOM: Well, let’s be positive. You’re going to enjoy it.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Show on a beautiful fall weekend. What projects are you tackling right now? What projects do you want to get done? If you’ve not been able to reach us during this show to ask questions, you can try us any time of the day or night by calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we will call you back the next time we are.
You can also post your questions to our Instagram page, our Facebook page. You can tweet us with your questions. We are out there looking to support the jobs that you guys want to do around your house and help you create your best home ever.
But for now, that’s all the time we have. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
(Copyright 2021 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)